From the Liverpool Echo - 17 November 2003
Baker's days with Macca
Nov 17 2003
PADDY SHENNAN spends an afternoon at Abbey Road studios with Geoff Baker - Sir Paul McCartney's right-hand man for the last 14 years.
PAUL McCartney's representative on earth lights up one of the 60 cigarettes he will smoke today and pours scorn on the notion that he could ever commit the ultimate betrayal . . .
"There is as much chance of me writing a book about Paul as there is of me taking life seriously," says Geoff Baker, who has served his lord and master as press officer for 14 eventful, newsworthy years.
"I could write hundreds of books about Paul, but I'd never do it - even if someone put a gun to my head.
"It would cheapen everything. I think it's entirely wrong to work for someone and then write a book about him."
But you could do it? There would be nothing stopping you?
"Of course I could do it. But it isn't a consideration. It's never going to happen."
It would be letting Paul, and himself, down. Although Geoff, in his own self-deprecating words, did "**** up" and let his boss down quite recently.
And he is big enough to bring up "That David Blaine thing" just a few minutes after we meet, as he prepares to oversee an afternoon of promotional TV interviews for the born-again Beatles' album Let It Be ... Naked.
He was fired by Paul - though reinstated within hours - after it emerged that he had tipped off a London Evening Standard photographer that his boss would be visiting the scene of Blaine's stunt by Tower Bridge.
There were reports of a certain amount of unpleasantness, including a scuffle between Paul's pals and the snapper, although Paul later played down the incident as "a group of friends on a night out" and dismissed the "sacking" as a joke.
Anything you'd like to add, Geoff: "Yes, I'm a ****".
So the conspiracy theorists were wrong and it wasn't a Baker/McCartney stunt to generate even more headlines? "We're not that ******* mad!"
Further explaining their relationship, he adds: "There has been the odd barney over the years, but it's always me - I cause them. It's me being hotheaded, because I just am. It doesn't matter if I'm working for Paul McCartney, the Pope or whoever.
"I'm a bit intolerant of authority. But if Paul McCartney was a dickhead I wouldn't work for him."
He pauses to consider his role in life: "I think it's hysterical that I work for someone who is the most famous person in the world apart, perhaps, from the Pope - although the Pope's songs aren't as good.
"But it'll probably end very soon - probably after Paul reads this! I really wouldn't be surprised if it ended this year."
You've been doing the job for 14 years, so why should it end now? "Because I don't presume anything. I keep having to change the remark, but when I'd worked for Paul for 10 years I said: 'If you work for Paul McCartney for 10 days that would make your life.' I'm not saying that in a sycophantic way, because he gets enough of that.
"But it's ******* fabulous. It's a privilege; it's not work. It's been a blast. And that's what I think it's meant to be; fun and a laugh - it's only rock 'n' roll."
We are, at this point, sitting on the steps of the Abbey Road studios. Some tourists are gawping at us. One is probably saying: "Look at that scruffy so and-so - it must be Geoff Baker."
Non-stop Geoff - possibly powered by Duracell batteries - does wonderful impressions of a hyperactive child and a runaway train at this world-famous musical landmark in London's St John's Wood.
He has, for once, agreed to step out of Paul McCartney's shadow and into the spotlight - but only because it will give him the chance to further promote the new, stripped-down version of The Beatles' album, Let It Be (Let It Be ... Naked is out today).
Geoff, who is great company and one of the most enthusiastic people I've ever met, is excited. Very excited. Over the course of more than four hours, he will tell me and several others "The Beatles are on the ******** front cover of the NME, for the first time since they split up! How cool is that?"
Crews from BBC News, Radio 4, Associated Press TV News, Sky News and a French TV station are here to interview Paul Hicks and Guy Massey, two of the producers who remixed the album using Abbey Road's digital technology (Allan Rouse was the third).
Sir Paul, naturally, is at home with his wife, Heather, holding the baby.
Geoff, then, with more than a little help from his friend and fellow free-lancer, Berni Kilmartin, spends a frantic afternoon overseeing a mini-media circus (believe me, touchy, tempera-mental and time-consuming TV crews can take a lot of looking after).
The 47-year-old father-of-four fetches, carries, smokes some fags, runs along corridors, hands out press packs, smokes some more fags, sits in on the interviews - and finds precious minutes here and there to answer my questions and be photographed by the Echo's Frank Loughlin.
When we arrive, he is on his knees before The Beatles, applying gaffer tape to giant posters - and praising the new (old) album to the heavens: "This is a great day for Liverpool, Paddy. And the audacity of the whole thing - remixing an album made 33 years ago! That's not a scam, it's Scouse front!"
His rough and ready appearance - a mop of unruly black/grey hair, casual blue sweater and jeans - seems to match the organised chaos of his high-energy, action-packed day.
Dorset-born Geoff, who lives in Wilt-shire with his second wife, certainly couldn't be described as a pompous man, and he says: "I like the fact that Paul isn't pompous. When he was knighted he accepted the honour on behalf of the people of Liverpool. He didn't need to do that; he wasn't going to sell any more albums by doing that."
Being Paul McCartney - and being Paul McCartney's press officer - means questions, questions and more questions. And Geoff says: "The most ridiculous thing I see in this job is when interviewers say to Paul 'Now, I'm going to ask you a question you've never been asked before.'
"Because he's ALWAYS been asked it before!"
As yet another TV crew set up in the control room of Abbey Road's studio two (where Sgt Pepper was recorded), Geoff explains his working non-routine: "It all depends on the project.
If Paul's on the road, I'll be working with him every day. But at other times, I can go for weeks without talking to him."
It may only be rock 'n' roll, but Geoff Baker likes it. In fact, he loves it.
After rewarding the French TV crew with an interview - they'd come a long way - he rounds things off by telling me his favourite Beatles' song.
"Birthday from The White Album, because it was playing when I had sex for the first time - when I was 14-years-old."
Very rock 'n' roll, Geoff. And I bet you lit up a fag immediately
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